Hawking Up Hairballs

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More From Fisk

"Iraqis might take satisfaction at the overthrow of their dictator. But punished by twelve years of brutal sanctions, bombed repeatedly by allied aircraft over the same period under the spurious notion that enforcement of the 'no-fly' zones would protect them, dusted over by the poison of our depleted-uranium munitions, twice in just over a decade, would they really come to greet and love us -- the new occupiers who had so punished them, who had humiliated them over so many years?"

The above quotation is from Robert Fisk's book, The Great War For Civilisation. It comes from a chapter entitled "The Plague". The plague to which he is referring is the plague of cancers that had been visited upon the Iraqis in the south of the country as a result of the US and British use of depleted-uranium ammunition during the first Gulf war. This ammunition is intended for use against armored vehicles and heavily fortified positions. The so-called depleted uranium is used because of its great mass, which gives it more punch. When a depleted uranium round hits an armored vehicle it punches a hole right through the armor. In the process, some of the metal is vaporized. When it cools, it creates a dust that is spread by the wind. It settles into the the soil, streams, and lakes. In addition, pieces of the uranium from the exploded shells are apparently bright and shiny, so they appeal to kids, who pick them up and play with them. This might not be such a big deal, except for the fact that, though the uranium is depleted in the sense of no longer suitable for use in reactors, it is still radioactive, and it is dangerous. As Fisk points out, the epidemiology of childhood cancers in the Basra area in southern Iraq verifies that fact. The number of cases of cancers has multiplied significantly in the area around where these weapons were used.

Not only that, but the UN sanctions meant that people didn't have enough to eat, and that medicine was hard to come by. A lot of these sanctions weren't just ludicrous, but cruel. The Iraqis couldn't import a number of vaccines. like that for diptheria. The agents against which these vaccines acted were said to be potential biological warfare agents, so the vaccines were declared to have military value. Likewise, pencils couldn't be imported, because the graphite of which their lead is made was deemed to have potential military uses. There were also continued punitive air strikes. Some of the targets of these strikes had military value, but not others. For example, how did hitting a water purification plant punish Saddam? It was the people who suffered as a result of actions like that. When questioned about all this, US military and government officials customarily said that it was all Saddam's fault. If he complied with the UN sanctions, they wouldn't have to do these things. What twisted logic. Say a small boy is beaten up because he refused to give a larger bully his lunch money. By the same reasoning, you could say that the beating was the smaller boys fault because he failed to hand over his money. And besides, the Iraqi people didn't have the means to depose Saddam. His control was just plain too effective. As a matter of fact, the Shia in the south of Iraq did rise up against him after the first Gulf war, and the US stepped aside to let Saddam crush them.

After all this, it seems utterly ludicrous that Bush and his neocon enablers actually thought that the Iraqi people would welcome the US as liberators. It just goes to show you how obtuse the people in the Bush administrations really are. We Americans are not a people with an appreciation of history, but Bush and his coterie have taken it to new levels. But then, they're about creating a new reality. Too bad it has to be a Disneyland reality. Say hi to Goofy for me, George.


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